Reviews from South of Stavewood
“Turn three pages into Ms. Kinslow's Stavewood collection and you will find yourself whisked away as if in the arms of the handsome heros … painted with the pen of pure romance. Her prose will have you standing in the room …, a part of the magnificent world she has created. I would not be surprised to hear that one day this newcomer is considered one of the great female writers of our time.”
- Laureen Silverman
“I have to say that you have earned a place on my list of favorite writers with Ms.Kinslow’s two books. Historical trips to Stavewood were such a treat for my heart and my imagination. What a wonderful romp! I look forward to the third installment.’
- Emily Donet
Ms. Kinslow’s engaging story-telling style makes the book hard to put down.”
News of Delaware
What a pleasure to catch up with the Elgerson family. Additional characters quickly become well known as Ms. Kinslow provides insight to their personalities with her excellent way with words. I found this book as equally difficult to put down as book one.”
This book was such a wonderful continuation of Book one and you totally become involved with the families. I can't wait to read Book three! The author is extremely talented I hope the series continues on.”
Patti Ranney Shadrick
Books by Nanette Kinslow
South of Stavewood
Home to Stavewood
The Secret of Stavewood
Sweet New England
Pie Crust Promise
The Matter with Margaret
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
2013 Lighthouse Publishing
Copyright © 2013 by Nanette Kinslow
All Rights Reserved
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews. For information contact Lighthouse Publishing.
First Lighthouse Group publishing August 2013
Published in the United States by Lighthouse Publishing Group
Cover design by Patrick Warn
My appreciation goes to the following people who have helped make the Stavewood books possible:
My husband, Patrick, whose continuing support has enabled and inspired me. Without his constant love and encouragement these books would not exist.
To Jessica Ramsey for her love and perspectives.
Clive Harris, for believing in me enough to publish.
And to my old, new and inspiring friends and family who have done so much to make me feel I deserve to be doing this.
Fairy Tales are born from our need for love and without romance the world is bitter.
With love in your heart the world is always sweet.
This book is dedicated to a good and gentle man, Bruce Garitta. His warm smile and kind heart will live in my memory all the rest of my life.
ark Elgerson stepped onto the platform in Barite, Missouri in the fall of 1903. He surveyed the rail yards surrounding the station and, although he had only just arrived, already his heart ached to return home to Stavewood.
He was a young man, just barely twenty years old, tall, and slender in stature. His dark hair, the color of a ripe chestnut, was pulled neatly back and gathered at the nape of his neck. He wore no facial hair and his complexion was fair, though tanned from a life outdoors. His features were fine and firm, his neck long and his cheekbones high.
His companion, Samuel Evens, stepped down beside him and looked around. He had a stockier build and was a year older than Mark. His hair, a sandy color, fell short of his collar and lay loose and soft. Neither of the young men had pomade or other embellishments in their hair, and their footwear was not the slender, polished leather ankle boot, fastened with welt laces and slim on the foot as was the fashion. Both men’s boots were high and straight and featured a stacked heel. These were boots meant for a working life or a ride upon a horse.
Samuel grinned in anticipation, seeing the trip as an adventure. The young men had come on behalf of Mark’s father, Timothy, a Minnesota timberman and, although Sam was looking for new experiences, Mark had chosen to travel for different reasons altogether. He set foot on his journey thinking to escape but, from the moment he started his trip, he began to regret his decision.
The two stole across the myriad of railway tracks, through a flat open yard, grey and dreary, painted in the drab shades of November.
The office of the businessman they were to meet sat within view of the rail yards and they hurried up the stairs and entered the office.
Benjamin Neilson emerged from the back room as the receptionist greeted them. He shook the young men’s hands eagerly.
“It’s so good to see you boys! Mark, your father wired me that you would be arriving today. I don’t see any reason why we should rush into business since you boys are going to be here for a while. Let’s get you settled in and get a bite to eat and maybe a drink or two. I know I am always parched whenever I get off that train.” The businessman gathered his coat and hat and directed Mark and Samuel out into the street.
“I found the perfect accommodations for you boys, right up the street here. You’ll be close to everything in town and, of course, the office as well. The carriages stop there, so you can catch a ride to wherever you like.”
The big man led them to a narrow side street, directly off of the main road and pointed out a large home, surrounded with open porches.
“Mrs. Griffin is a good friend of mine and runs a fine house. I’m certain she will make sure you are both very comfortable.”
He led them onto the porch. The wide veranda was filled with tattered wicker furniture and potted plants that had succumbed to the autumn chill. In the window a large sign reading “Rooms Available” hung in a haphazard manner, partially hidden behind worn curtains.
Sam smiled to his companion in eagerness and Mark nodded solemnly.
A haggard looking woman appeared in the hall and eyed the young men suspiciously as the three entered.
“Lillian, these are the young fellas I told you about. You be sure to take good care of them for me,” the big man chuckled.
Lillian Griffin wiped her hands on her apron, scowled and turned away. “Follow me,” she grunted.
“I’ll see you back at the office once you’re settled then!” Ben shook their hands vigorously and trotted quickly to the door, waving as he closed it behind himself.
The woman climbed the back staircase with labored steps and a wracking cough, stopping several times to catch her breath.
She opened one doorway, the hinges squealing as if in pain, and pointed into the room.
“Why, thank you,” Samuel nodded and stepped into the room and set down his cases.
Mark followed her in silence to the next chamber and she pushed the portal open.
“Thank you,” he said softly.
“Now you boys don’t cause no trouble and we’ll get along just fine,” she announced, standing in the hall. She pulled a lopsided, haphazardly rolled cigarette from her apron pocket and struck a match against the wall.
“House rules are pretty simple. No women in the rooms at any time.” She lit the cigarette, drew in it deeply and commenced to coughing violently.
Once she had suppressed her hacking she continued. “If you are eating with us, be on time for supper. I don’t hold food for anyone. We eat at four.”
Mrs. Griffin crept back down the hall to the stairs, her cough fading towards the first floor.
Mark set his bags onto the floor and surveyed the room. There was a bed and a bureau and a lone nightstand beside a worn, upholstered chair. The mattress sagged in the bedframe and was covered in threadbare, woolen blankets.
Mark pulled back the blanket and saw that the sheets were greyed and covered in stains. He sighed deeply. The rest of the furniture appeared to have been recently dusted, although by someone without ambition. The dust was pushed to one side and much of it had accumulated on the floor beside the furniture. The young man had no fear of dirt, but felt that, if he were to remain in the room, he’d need to do a bit of housework of his own.
He opened a drawer, but the musty odor that arose caused him to close it again and decide his clothing was better off in his suitcases.
Mark could afford better accommodations, he was certain, but to decline these after Mr. Neilson had arranged them might be bad business, he decided. He sighed and left the room, closing the door behind him.
“Look,” Samuel pointed out of the dingy window in his own room. “You can see the whole town from here practically. We’ve got to see it all!”
Mark smiled, and wondered where he might find the closest telegraph office.
imothy Elgerson held the telegram in his strong hand and took a deep breath.
To: Elgerson Mill Station, Minnesota.
From: Barite, Missouri.
Arrived safely. Missing you all.
The big man slipped the message into his shirt pocket and headed back up the path towards home, through the tall white pine, secluded and quiet but for the chirping of the birds. It had been three days since the boys had left, and, although Mark had checked in as promised along their journey, all communications had been brief. Timothy knew why the boy had volunteered to take the traveling job for the family business. He also knew that Mark hated being away from home.
He looked up at the estate as he entered the yard to Stavewood. The striking Queen Anne Victorian seemed more beautiful every time he took the time to look up at her facade. He knew that his wife, Rebecca, would ask if he had heard from Mark the minute he walked in the door. He tried to compose himself. If he could put a smile on his face perhaps she would worry less.
Timothy Elgerson stood tall, strong and confident, now nearing forty and settled in his life. He’d come a long way over the years. The mail order bride, for whom he had once placed an ad, was, to his way of thinking, still perfect and the woman he should have known all along. The son he had worried so much about was now a man, but Timothy Elgerson would have been much happier to have Mark at home, and have all the trouble that had driven him away behind them.
Timothy thought about the young girl who had accused Mark of fathering her child. Now everyone knew that her accusation was completely false, but Mark had taken it hard and felt he ought to leave, at least for a time. Timothy had known the truth from the moment that Bernadette Shofield had lied to him that day in his office, not so terribly long ago. Mark had only just explained to him a few days beforehand that he had not known the girl that way and Timothy believed it immediately. The man responsible had used the girl in an attempt to get even with the Elgerson family. Now that man, Jude Thomas, was nowhere to be found and presumably gone far from Billington. That was best for everyone, most likely his unborn child as well, but, Timothy thought, until his eldest son was back home, the situation was not resolved.
The big man took a deep breath and walked through the back door into his home. He nodded to the cook and hurried past her. If he could appear worry free to his wife, Rebecca, he thought, the rest would just work itself out.
She descended the stairs, beautifully groomed as she always was. He looked up to her thoughtfully. Ever the lady, Rebecca wore her hair in a soft gathering on the top of her head, dark tendrils falling about her face. Her figure still slender, she wore a dark woolen skirt and a delicately ruffled blouse.
She smiled sweetly and kissed his cheek fondly.
“Any news?” were her first words.
“Yep,” he grinned. “They made it okay. Telegram says he misses us. I’m sure they’re fine.”
She studied his face. His smile did not conceal his worry and heartbreak over the boy leaving. She took his hand and held it between her own.
“He’s smart, Tim. You taught him how to watch out for himself and he’s not one to go looking for trouble, like many other boys his age. He’ll be back in the spring, just like he said. He’ll make you lots of money and learn so many things.” Throughout the day she had gone over in her mind what she might say to her husband to ease his worry.
He kissed her hand and sighed. “I won’t miss him any less.”
Timothy’s daughter, Louisa appeared in the dining room doorway, tall for five, yet otherwise the image of her mother. She studied her father’s face, but did not say a word. His youngest son, Phillip, toddled out and stood quietly beside her. He was walking now, with only a stumble here and there, and he went to his father and held up his arms. Timothy pulled off his jacket and gathered up the child and kissed his cheek, and bent to kiss Louisa as well.
Even the youngest in the household, little Phillip felt the mood. Usually when his father came home the house was loud with joy at his returning and he didn’t come home alone. The toddler did not know why, but he knew that Mark was not around and missed him as well.
Timothy entered the large dining room and greeted the family that waited there.
Roland stood up and shook his hand.
“Did you hear anything?” Emma, Rebecca’s cousin asked expectantly. Her son, Ottland, sat quietly on her lap.
“They made it fine. Telegram says he’s missing us all.”
“That’s good,” Emma sighed.
“Did you send a wire back, Daddy?” Louisa asked. “Did you tell him what I said?”
Timothy avoided her question.
“What did you want your father to say?” Emma asked, settling her son into a chair.
“I wanted Daddy to tell him that it’s too sad without him home now and he should come back right away.” She nodded sharply.
“He will come home as soon as he’s done doing his work and is finished traveling. We have to let him enjoy his trip now and be patient," Timothy responded.
“Well,” Louisa scowled. “I can’t think that he is having any fun at all far away from Stavewood. We are having a terrible time.” She wrinkled her nose and scooted into her chair.
Roland helped the girl settle herself and nodded in agreement to her statement.